Every morning, after Liam leaves for school, Kellen and I play the “Vampire Game” for about an hour before I take him to preschool. As you might surmise from the name, we pretend to be vampires. Kellen is Vantrance. I am Vampira. We fly to distant planets on our spaceship (my bed) to battle bad guys, rescue baby dragons, and collect blood and meat from intergalactic markets.
A spaceship needs a trusty crew to man its’ various stations. Our crew consists of three stuffed panda bears- Vampie Go Go (the vampire baby), Coldy, and White Fluff.
Among our rag tag group, we also have one actual vampire- a puppet named Victor. I am in charge of animating the puppet, and speaking in a horrible Transylvanian accent to give voice to his thoughts. Here is a brief video to meet Victor.
The thing that amazes me most about this game, is the genuine belief Kellen exhibits when interacting with Victor. He does not look at me or talk to me unless he is talking to Vampira. When speaking with Victor, he addresses the puppet. If I slip and forget to speak in the accent, he will break character to tell me that I’m not using the right voice. As soon as I pick up the accent, he is immediately back in that world. He commits to the game with his whole heart, and that’s what makes it fun to play.
In my early twenties, I was part of a weekly D&D game. I know, surprise surprise- weird, crafty girl plays D&D. Shocker. But the rest of the people playing would always remark on how quickly and thoroughly I became my character. I didn’t just roll dice and tally my points. I acted her out. I drew pictures of her. Sometimes I even dreamed as her. Perhaps Kellen gets some of this ability from me, to fully exist inside of a moment.
Since I returned from Colorado for Chris’s memorial, a friend has brought me dinner every night. I haven’t cooked in three weeks. A couple of nights ago, as my friend dropped off a casserole, she remarked how I seem present in my emotions. I think she is right and it is helping me heal. As we get older, hopefully we learn to be comfortable in our skin, and to just be who we are. Everything I write is from a genuine place, sometimes ugly, sometimes difficult, maybe confrontational, but always real even if it is to my detriment.
Early on after Chris’s passing, a friend advised me to be in my grief as much as I could stand it, to not try to hide from it or distract myself. She said the more I was in it, the quicker I would learn to adapt to it.
Liam has had a cold for the last few days, and the skin around his nose has become tender from constant use of tissues. Last night, I gave him a tube of chapstick and told him to rub it on the inflamed skin around his nostrils since they were raw.
“What does raw mean?” he asked.
Raw. I told him about the tissues irritating the top layer of his skin, cutting through it bit by bit to expose the tender layer underneath. I am no longer in tears every second of the day, but something will trigger a response, and bit by bit, my underlayer is exposed. My emotions are healing, but still raw.
The real gift of the meal support is time to myself to do what I need to do- to be present in this process. I’m not shopping and chopping and cooking. I’ve been fortunate to have time to write, listen to music, talk with friends, and look at photographs.
Every night, my husband comes home from work, and I show him some rocks I’ve painted. I’m sure he has to be thinking Awesome. I went to work all day, and you painted rocks. But he never says that. He understands that while it might seem like busy work to him, it is something more to me.
I don’t know why painting the rocks is so comforting. Maybe it’s the repetition. Perhaps taking something ordinary and turning it into something colorful and creative. I’m trying not to examine it to failure. I just know it helps me in some strange way.
Another friend sent me a set of mala beads, and described how to chant with them. I was to think of a mantra, say it, move a bead and repeat until I got to the end of the string.
I’ve been trying to think of my mantra for a few days. Nothing sounded right.
Today, as I was running around, pretending to be Victor, I was brought back to how thoroughly Kellen engages in the game. Despite playing blood thirsty creatures of the night, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it is, to exist in a space of your own creation that makes you happy. At that moment, I got my mantra.
Inhabit beauty. Bring joy.
Even in the darkest times, there are moments of peace and beauty. I can engage in them and let them guide me. At times like these, I can not help but wonder, when my day comes, what legacy will I leave. I want my name to be associated with color and spectacle and huge laughter and walking with joy. But to leave that legacy, I have to live it. It’s not about denying the negative, but engaging in the positive that coexists and inhabiting that space.
Kellen came home from school today, and immediately wanted to play with Victor. He had a new trick to show him. Kellen can now speak duck, and wanted to see if Victor could too. Who doesn’t want to live in that world?
Inhabit beauty. Bring joy.